MORGANTOWN, W. Va — West Virginia’s season rebuild continued on Wednesday as the Mountaineers took a straight-set loss to Iowa State, 25-22, 25-23, 25-21.
The red-hot Cyclones take their fifth straight win over the Mountaineers, who have dropped nine straight sets over their last three matches. WVU remains winless in the Big 12 after nine contests.
“We’re getting into the 20,s you know? We just shoot ourselves in the foot,” said WVU coach Reed Sunahara. “We just made too many mistakes at inopportune times and that kills the morale so we’ve got to be better at that.”
The first set remained even until it was tied at 14 points, at which point Iowa State scored five straight to build a comfortable lead. WVU surged back late in the set, but the Cyclones held the Mountaineers off to take set one.
Iowa State nearly ran away with set two, taking a 19-11 lead. Again, WVU fought back and this time was able to tie it up, but the Cyclones held on for a two-point win in the second set.
The third set was the closest. Neither team could pull away as they went point-for-point until it was tied at 18. Iowa State finally got that last bit of momentum to go over the edge and took a narrow victory to win the match.
“We’ve got to make more plays,” Sunahara said. “They had more kills than us, they had more digs than us, so we have to figure out how to get more kills than the other teams and more digs. I think if we can do those things, hopefully, the results change.”
Iowa State had 46 kills to WVU’s 33 and recorded 51 digs to WUV’s 46.
Three Cyclones — Eleanor Holthaus, Solei Thomas and Maya Duckworth — logged double-digit points and combined for 39 points in the match. Holthaus led the match with 13 kills, tying WVU’s Adrian Ell for the top spot.
Ell was the only double-digit scorer for WVU, adding 14.5 points to the effort.
WVU is in the back half of the toughest stretch in its 2022 schedule as the Cyclones aim to make a late push into the national rankings. The Mountaineers’ gauntlet continues on Sunday when it travels to Waco, Texas to face No. 13 Baylor on the road.
WVU has already faced the Lady Bears, falling in straight sets at home on Oct. 8.
With an NCAA Tournament bid likely out of the question at this point in the campaign, Sunahara hopes to see his team continue to improve. Half of the roster — including most of this season’s main contributors — are true freshmen, so his main goal for the rest of the year is to see progress.
“We are getting better, unfortunately…the lack of W’s don’t give us that indication but I can see improvement. They can see improvement,” Sunahara said. “But we’ve got to find a way to finish and to get a W so that we can keep moving forward.”